Bhopal: Taking the lead in women's education are madarsas in Bhopal seeing over 60 per cent seats being occupied by girls. The otherwise conservative clergy is not only not objecting, it's also helping students achieve their ambitions.
Shamshad wants to be an engineer. With no regular educational background to boast of, this would have been an impossible target if the Madarsa-e-Niswa in Bhopal hadn't come to her rescue. In the central Indian city of erstwhile nawabs and begums, madarsas are helping the cause of women empowerment by providing education.
"We are given all kinds of education in the Madarsa. We are taught the Quaran Sharif, Urdu, Arabic, Science, Maths, English, in fact everything. I want to be an engineer," Shamshad said.
Another student, Sana, says, "I want to be a doctor and the madarsa is doing everything to help me realise my dream." Shamshad and Sana are just two faces of the changing scenario. Girls constitute 60 per cent of over 3 lakh plus students in Madhya Pradesh's 5,300 madarsas. The number of women teachers is also growing. The warden of Madarsa-e-Niswa Tayyaba Bia observes strict purdah and does not allow herself to be photographed. But the young lot is allowed to interact as they get ready to take on the outside world.
Rashid Khan, President, Madarsa Board, said, "It is a matter of pride for us. Generally there is an image of suffering and subjugation of women amongst Muslims. The government gives them the mid-day meal and is all for promoting education."
At a time when the image of the madarsa has taken a beating following some regressive diktats for women, this comes as a boost for the community at large and Madhya Pradesh's Muslim girls who are ready to take off. And for a change the conservative Muslim clergy is not objecting.